Identify the TWO biggest strengths you have in terms of doing a research project and explain how you have demonstrated these
Conducting a study may not be a walk in the park. It requires competence, accuracy, prudence as well as proper planning and resourcefulness. In doing a research project, my biggest strength is on data collection. A whole research is always centered on retrieving data that could be used to come up with conclusions and generalizations. I have capitalized on ensuring that the data collection part of any research project I involve in accurate, reliable and free from error. In all the studies I have involved in, I have demonstrated data collection effectiveness in various ways. First I always establish the issues and opportunities for collecting data. This process is referred to as quality assurance. Notably, Moreland & Birley, (1998) suggest that integrity is a central consideration when collecting data. Therefore, the primary initial steps I take are meant to prevent of forestall any potential problems that might affect data collection. To ensure integrity of the data collection therefore, I always use proactive measures through the standardization of protocol that is developed in an all-inclusive and meticulous procedure manual of retrieving data (Sagor, 2000).
I always intend to ensure the listing of all information to be collected is exhaustive and that the description of data collection instruments is not vague but rather conform to the rigorous step-by-step process of collecting the data. This also allows me to identify specific content strategies for training staff responsible for the entire process of data collection. According to Sagor (2000) quality control is one way of ensuring the validity and reliability of data collected. Therefore, once the basis of collecting data has been precisely laid, I focus on the quality control which involves detection, monitoring and action during the process. To facilitate this, I always ensure that every bit of the entire process is well documented regardless of the data collection technique. Documentation and proper communication throughout the process allows me to avoid any form uncertainty as well as potential errors unforeseeable at the start of the process.
Another major area of a research project where I have a big strength is on the topic selection. So many researchers end up being unsuccessful because they never choose the right topic. I have learnt that a right topic is not any other issue of controversy or a much talked about subject matter. Rather, a right topic is one which has a focus, is researchable, it’s an area of interest and manageable. Therefore, in any research project, my emphasis is always on the foundation on which the rest of the research rests (Delva, Allen-Meares, & Momper, 2010). Therefore, I am always careful in choosing the right research topic. To be able to do this, I often follow a series of steps before settling on an area of focus for my study. Firstly, I develop a doable topic by establishing the necessity and corresponding availability of research resources including manpower, monetary resources and time. I should never choose a topic that is resource-intensive when I do not have sufficient resources. The next step is reviewing every bit of literature there is about the topic. This allows me to come up with the theoretical or conceptual framework of studying the topic.
After the review, I always find a theoretical basis that supports my topic. This is because there must have been prior studies conducted about the topic or areas relating to the chosen topic. I have to establish this information to help me overarch the theoretical context of the findings of my research. All this are initial steps on which the entire study rests. Thus, I always demonstrate a high level of prudence and accuracy when handling the stages. Moreland & Birley, (1998) believe that the topic chosen is always a subject that holds my interests so that I am fully committed and focused on conducting the study. Furthermore, it is always crucial for me to establish areas where I can make a difference or fill in gaps left by previous researchers. However, the main point of consideration is that the study topic cannot change the entire world or area of research. Hence, the topic helps me treat my project as an addition to the existing body of knowledge by fine-tuning it based on the input of other researchers. This way I find myself coming up with the right topic of research which I consider strength in conducting a research project.
Identify the THREE biggest weaknesses you have in terms of doing research and explain how you will overcome these in order to be ready to do a large scale research project next year
As noted before, research is not easy. It has its own challenges and every other researcher should be prepared to counter these challenges to ensure the study is successful and achieves the objectives set. One of my biggest weaknesses in conducting research is choosing the right and appropriate research methodology. Research methodology refers to the procedure for conducting the research (Consumers International, 2013). Sometimes I choose a methodology which turns out to be problematic in nature. For instance, sometimes a pick a qualitative approach and during the data collection and analysis stages, I realize that some of the information is quantitative in nature which means that I could have chosen mixed methods. The same also happens when it comes to choosing the research design as well as the philosophical framework. According to Delva, Allen-Meares, & Momper, (2010) the design and philosophical framework have to conform to the research approach which is sometime difficult for me especially considering the numerous research designs and philosophical approaches available. In other words, when it comes to choosing the appropriate research methodology, I always have a problem with conformity.
However, to overcome this weakness, I have come about with a strategy which will help me choose the right methodology especially for a large scale research. Firstly, I have come to the realization that in any research project, the best way to choose a research methodology is not to choose. This means that the research methodology I have to use should not be my own preference but rather should come from the research questions I seek to answer and the objectives I seek to achieve. I should never choose a methodology before understanding my research questions and purpose. The answers I seek should therefore guide me in picking the right methodology (Schwiesow, 2010). The design and methodology will be best on the answers to the research questions. For instance, if the questions I seek to answers include words such as “generate”, “explore”, “investigate” or understand, the study should assume a qualitative approach. If, however, the words are “compare”, “correlate”, “relate” etc. the study should assume a quantitative approach.
After recognizing and understanding the approach, I should be able to hone my study design. Establishing the approach that the study takes is very imperative it identifying the appropriate methodology. It is from such an understanding that I should be able to establish my sampling population, my sampling strategy, my sampling unit, the data collection techniques and the data analysis techniques (Sagor, 2000). Clarity is one major factor to consider in this entire process. I should be precise and clear in the methods I choose. For instance, if in a qualitative study I choose to use the interview methods of focus groups, I should remain distinct about their utility so that following studies could pick it up do it exactly in the same way. Apart from clarity, consistence is also of great significance. I should remain honest about my capacity and ability to uphold the methodology chosen. I should ask myself whether or not I can meet the demands of the study with my skills. Above all, Schwiesow, (2010) contends that it is imperative to take my time during the whole process. Consulting other related studies and researchers about the appropriate methodology cannot cost me anything. I should guarantee that the methodology I choose meets all the demands of the study.
My next biggest weakness is finding the appropriate study participants. In studies involving a small quota, it is much easier finding the participants. However, in a large scale research project, finding the appropriate study participants is a huge hurdle for me. Some studies require finding ‘hidden population’ or extra-sensitive subjects which may not be an easy task for me. Not everybody may be willing to participate in a study despite the fact that participation is voluntary. In some cases, such recruitments require resources especially time and monetary resources (Delva, Allen-Meares, & Momper, 2010). The process involves a lot of traveling and exhausting expeditions when the research/sample population is large. However, to counter this weakness, there are several ways that could help especially for a large scale research project. Firstly, it is imperative to ensure sufficiency of resources and at the same time desist from wasting them. Email marketing sometimes work but sometimes is also ineffective. Being on the ground to physically recruit participants works effectively (Consumers International, 2013). This way, participants are given a chance to understand the details of the researcher and why it is significant that they participate.
It is also imperative to leverage the power of a network. Networking involves using techniques such as the snowball sampling technique which targets a specific group. This is meant to help the researcher locate advocates within a specified social network. After locating them, the researcher asks them to recommend any others who might be willing to participate in the study. Notably, this strategy might result in what is known as domino effect which ensures maximum participation (Schwiesow, 2010). Finally, as a researcher, I should not be afraid to reach out to people. First I should be ready to reach out to fellow researchers. I should be able to be in the field physically and recruit participants. Being nervous makes the whole thing worse. If I am afraid, then everybody else will be afraid to associate or participate in my research. The worst thing will be people saying “no” at a time when you need them the most for the study.
My third biggest weakness in conducting a research project might as well be a weakness for every other researcher. There is no easy research project. Every study, no matter how simple it is, has its ups and downs. Staying motivated and focusing on the plan is therefore a bigger challenge I undergo especially when the project is filled with hurdles. Especially in large projects, maintaining the motivation to keep going despite the challenges, pressures and commitments is hard. Delva, Allen-Meares, & Momper, (2010) acknowledge that a researcher requires focus and commitment. Without these ingredients, biasness is bound to occur at any point which might render the entire study unreliable or invalid. There are several ways to counter this. Firstly, the entire project calls for proper planning and scheduling of activities. I should be ready to follow my purpose as a passion under full commitment and motivation. If the project is what I believe in, then its schedule should be appropriate and conform to my personal commitments apart from it. Every research must have an (social, political, educational, economic, etc.) impact (Consumers International, 2013). Therefore, the passion of conducting it is almost automatic. However, it should be fueled by the commitment and proper planning I make even before commencing on the process.
Monitoring my attitude towards the study throughout the process is also significant. When there is much to do, I should give myself time to effectively complete each task rather than work haphazardly just to meet a deadline (Schwiesow, 2010). Staying positive through the study is therefore crucial. I should accept challenges and establish ways of dealing with them. More importantly, motivation comes when I reward myself. Rewards should be part of the work plan. In other words, I should give myself time for leisure, time to rest and time to think about other things. More significantly, I should ask for assistance whenever I am stuck on anything regarding the research project. I should share the goals and objectives of the study with everybody else to make the entire study a collective success.
Consumers International, (2013). How to Conduct Effective Research. Retrieved on July 2016 from http://www.consumersinternational.org/news-and-media/resource-zone/how-to-conduct-effective-research/
Delva, J., Allen-Meares, P. & Momper, L. S., (2010). Conducting Large Scale Population Based Research. In Delva, J., Allen-Meares, P. & Momper, L. S., (2010). Cross-Cultural Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Moreland, N. & Birley, G., (1998). A Practical Guide to Academic Research. New York; Psychology Press.
Sagor, R., (2000). Chapter 9. Data Collection: Building a Valid and Reliable Data Collection Plan. Retrieved on 20 July 2016 from
Schwiesow, D., (2010). 7 Research Challenges (And how to overcome them). Retrieved on 20 July 2016 from https://www.waldenu.edu/about/newsroom/publications/articles/2010/01-research-challenges